Spinning The NIE

Jack Kelly has a piece on the politically-motivated leak of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq. The CIA has long been trying to act as an unelected branch of government, and the incomplete and misleading way in which only a few of its conclusions were leaked to the press is another example of a bureaucracy gone out of control. As Kelly writes:

Mr. Mazzetti indicated he hasn’t seen the NIE himself, but is reporting on what his sources have told him is in it. But people who leak classified information have agendas, and that agenda rarely is to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Alas, that rarely is the agenda of New York Times reporters either, when they have a story they think will embarrass the Bush administration.

“The New York Times characterization of the NIE is not representative of the complete document,” said Peter Watkins, a White House spokesman.

“Several officials I’ve spoken with who worked on…the final assessment actually reached a different conclusion than what is being reported,” said “Mac Ranger,” a former Army intelligence officer.

Powerline also finds someone who has seen the complete NIE and how the media is distorting its conclusions. The media, once again, is trying to use their contacts in the national intelligence community to shift an election they know they have a strong chance of losing — this is no different than the al-Qaaqaa story which appeared right before the elections in 2004 only to disappear once again when the media no longer had any political interest in pursuing the story.

Furthermore, Robert Kagan writes in The Washington Post that the assertion that the war in Iraq has “increased terrorism” is unprovable:

As a poor substitute for actual figures, The Post notes that, according to the NIE, members of terrorist cells post messages on their Web sites depicting the Iraq war as “a Western attempt to conquer Islam.” No doubt they do. But to move from that observation to the conclusion that the Iraq war has increased the terrorist threat requires answering a few additional questions: How many new terrorists are there? How many of the new terrorists became terrorists because they read the messages on the Web sites? And of those, how many were motivated by the Iraq war as opposed to, say, the war in Afghanistan, or the Danish cartoons, or the Israel-Palestine conflict, or their dislike for the Saudi royal family or Hosni Mubarak, or, more recently, the comments of the pope? Perhaps our intelligence agencies have discovered a way to examine, measure and then rank the motives that drive people to become terrorists, though I tend to doubt it. But any serious and useful assessment of the effect of the Iraq war would, at a minimum, try to isolate the effect of the war from everything else that is and has been going on to stir Muslim anger. Did the NIE attempt to make that calculation?

What is going on here is a rogue CIA trying to selectively release classified information in violation of federal law. Patrick Fitzgerald spend millions of taxpayer dollars on a futile attempt to prove a crime that likely never happened — why in the world isn’t the Justice Department being sent down to Langley with a boatload of subpoenas in an effort to clean house? DNI Negroponte needs to make it quite clear that any CIA employee caught leaking to a reporter will be summarily dismissed and subject to the full penalty of law. This kind of behavior is not only illegal and unethical, but leaks of classified information can get people killed.

Not only that, but The New York Times is once again demonstrating their abject partisan hypocrisy. When it was revealed that President Bush had allowed portions of a pre-war National Intelligence Estimate to be revealed to reporters by Scooter Libby, The New York Times wrote a harshly-worded editorial condemning such actions — but when anonymous sources hand them selective quotations from another NIE, they’re the first to run with it. This sort of blatant hypocrisy is sadly par for the course from the increasingly partisan mainstream media.

President Bush should make it clear that business as usual from the CIA is no longer tolerable. The CIA seems better at leaking secrets than keeping them, and they seem better at trying to overthrow elected governments at home than dangerous ones abroad. The President should ask the Director of National Intelligence to begin a comprehensive set of reform initiatives to ensure that the CIA does its job.

Furthermore, the President should order the declassification of all segments of the full NIE which do not contain information that would compromise national security. The American people are only getting the side of the story that the left wants them to get when the full story is vastly different. A release of the full NIE would show the full context of these statements and provide yet another demonstration of the dishonesty and duplicity of the mainstream media.

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